Connor Lambert: Behind a Bent Lens of Reality
The fleeting rawness of human reality is captured and preserved by the work of those behind the lens. Exhibit A, Connor Lambert: a photographer impacted by the pure openness and intimacy of those who appear in front of his camera and grace his film and digital artwork. He creates nostalgia-evoking photos that reveal both the natural and bent realities of human life.
We explored how dropping out of high school has led to his curated ability to “mess with reality a bit”, and how this is seen in his black and white film, dripping with desire for adventure and human connection.
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First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Your background, who you are as a person and as an artist?
My name is Connor Lambert, and I’m a photographer from New Zealand. I was born in Rotorua but grew up in a few different places, including the states. I dropped out of high school to study photography because I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I figured it was a waste of time to do algebra when all I wanted to do was to take photos. Last year I finished my studies in photography and now I flow between freelance photography and working as a part time barista. That’s me.
Ah, me as an artist. Myself and my work are heavily inspired by people. Even from a young age I would always try to figure a person out - why do they say this or act like that? Trying to figure out who someone is is an intimate and difficult process. People put up barriers to protect themselves. My job is to capture what’s behind. Capture in one frame who someone really is - that’s the dream anyway.
I’d say you do that incredibly, capture who someone really is in your photographs. Was this something that came naturally to you, or did it take a while to learn?
Thank you. I find it very natural and comfortable to talk to my subjects. These people are from totally different walks of life, yet they talk to me. I think the secret to talking to anyone is being genuinely interested in everybody and what they have to say. I feel very privileged to have been exposed to the amount of stories and ideas as I have; and I feel very privileged to have had so many people people be open and raw in front of my camera.
It must have been a little difficult in the beginning, dropping out of school to pursue your passions. I know a lot of people wouldn’t be too supportive; what kept you motivated to keep moving forward? To follow your heart instead of what those around you said?
It was difficult, yes! But it was my ma who supported me through the whole process. Even though her path for me would have been an academic degree, she saw that I had a passion for what I was doing. I guess my motivation was the people surrounding me. I often fill myself with self-doubt, but my friends and family and tutors would remind me that I could do whatever I wanted to do.
What are some things you’ve learned about people, about us as humans, that you wish more of us knew?
Everyone has so much information! There’s a cool saying, “everyone is an expert in something”, so while talking to people I always try to find what they’re an expert on. Ask them questions about it and try to learn something new. And it’s so enlightening talking to someone who is passionate about something.
The people you photograph - you mentioned learning about their stories. Do their stories influence your art in any way?
Yeah. A person is built upon the moments, experiences, and events that they have lived through. So those stories have essentially shaped who they are. I use them to help me understand where they came from and who they are, and it all helps me to capture them as the real them.
How do you learn more about YOURSELF through photography?
I actually don’t think I have learnt much about myself. That’s tough to think about. I mean, except for commercially – I’ve been screwed over by clients in the last year and had to learn to back myself and not let anyone roll over me.
Who have been some of your favorite people/bands/places to shoot?
Lime Cordiale was the best band I’ve ever shot. They’re absolute legends and they kill it. Also, these skaters from aussie were amazing. This shot of them, with the pigeon, has to be in my top five favourite photos of mine.
It has to be one of my favorites of yours too. It’s stunning. What was going on in the photograph?
Thank you! So, I was walking through Sydney and I came across these skaters. I started chatting with them, and as we were talking a homeless man dropped some mouldy bread on the footpath next to us. Within seconds of it hitting the floor about thirty pigeons came swooping over. I instantly saw the photo idea in my head, and so mid-conversation I ran over to the bread, picked it up, and told the skaters to skate straight towards me. I took a few steps back, threw the bread out onto the road, the pigeons came in again, and these two skaters came towards me. I managed to capture 4 frames. Each one is pure joy on their faces.
It’s interesting because people think that these photos are entirely candid and that you have to be in the right place at the right time. That’s true to some extent, but you always have the ability to mess with reality a bit and make random events happen.
I love that so much! Do you feel like that’s true for life too? Sometimes it’s not about being in the right place at the right time, but making that ideal moment for yourself?
Yeah, I definitely believe that’s true for life too.
Wrapping up: what does growth look like to you? Both personally and artistically. How have you grown, and how do you hope to grow in the future?
I think growth personally and artistically are the same thing. When I grow my art does too. They work together, so therefore they grow together. I think that I’ve become so much more mature in the last few years; I see more of the bigger picture rather than focusing on the small things in life. I hope to be more accepting of myself and appreciate myself for who I am. I’m great at loving others, just not myself.
Big thank you to Connor Lambert - such a cool human and insane artist.
Support him on Instagram @lqmbert, and get your own taste of humanity through his art.